In the year 1888 there was a lot of publicity in the town papers over a peculiar case in Lanark County in which a whole family of nine, one after the other, contracted typhoid fever.
The family was respectable and clean, but as the house did not have any drainage there was a lot of discussion, in which the the family doctor, and newspapers participated, as to the cause of the disease. The house had a sink in a summer kitchen and this was connected with the drain. Over this sink there was hot controversy.
The doctor declared the sink was not “trapped.” but it was also declared there was a trap on the fewer pipe and that the sink had played no part in the cause of the disease. And so the argument waged. The family doctor stated that if the nature of the disease had been known in the first place (it was not for several weeks) the spread of it might have been avoided by certain sanitary precautions which had not been regarded as necessary.
What was left of the family was ostracised by the community instead of looking for a reason this happened.
Mary Mallon was born in Ireland in 1869 and emigrated to the United States in 1883 or 1884. She was engaged in 1906 as a cook by Charles Henry Warren, a wealthy New York banker, who rented a residence to Oyster Bay on the north coast of Long Island for the summer. From 27 August to 3 September, 6 of the 11 people present in the house were suffering from typhoid fever. At this time, typhoid fever was still fatal in 10% of cases and mainly affected deprived people from large cities .
The sanitary engineer, committed by the Warren family, George Sober, published the results of his investigation on the 15th of June 1907, in JAMA. Having believed initially that freshwater clams could be involved in these infections, he had hastily conducted his interrogation of the sick people and also of Mary who had presented a moderate form of typhoid . Mary continued to host the bacteria, contaminating everything around her, a real threat for the surrounding environment. Although Sober initially feared that the soft clams were the culprits, this proved to be incorrect as not all of those stricken had eaten them. Finally Sober had solved the mystery and became the first author to describe a “healthy carrier” of Salmonella typhi in the United States.
From March 1907, Sober started stalking Mary Mallon in Manhattan and he revealed that she was transmitting disease and death by her activity. His attempts to obtain samples of Mary’s feces, urine and blood, earned him nothing but being chased by her. Sober reconstituted the puzzle by discovering that previously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.
The Community Wells — Water Water Everywhere?
Union Almonte and Ramsay Contagious Hospital — “The Pest House”
Dark Moments in Ottawa History- Porter Island
Outside the home, on County Road 29, a passersby can read a plaque detailing the connection to James Naismith. The local hero was born in November 1861, in a home on the same property, all of which was owned by his extended family. Unseen James Naismith Photos and his Real Birthplace
When he was nine years old, his father got work at Grand Calumet and the family moved. But typhoid fever felled both parents, leaving nine-year-old James, his sister and brother orphans. The young trio returned to the stone home and were brought up by their uncle. Today there are memories of James Naismith in the restored rooms. The Smiths were diligent in the restoration, repairing stone work, refinishing floors, re-installing the trademark wrap-around veranda’ and reshingling the roof with cedar.
There were many outbreaks in the form of typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and smallpox in the area. Murray Guthrie remembers some Brits being bitten by mosquitos and thinking they had small pox. They stayed at the “Pest House” on Roy Rogers’ farm on Country Street in 1930. According to the Almonte Centennial book, Faces and Places: 1880-1980, “It was here that men returning from the lumber camps were sent when they had contracted contagious diseases.”
The Almonte Gazette
Friday December 28th, 1917, page 8
Physicians had a variety of treatments for typhoid fever including the administration of turpentine, quinine, brandy and quinine sulphate, or hygienic measures considered by most “by far the more important”. When Fanny died she was 33 and he was 51.
Donald and George Cameron, the two brothers who conducted the butcher business, have been particularly unfortunate in the last year. Some months ago their father and mother and two brothers died of typhoid fever. They have been in business about a year and were making good advancement. Their insurance will fall considerably short of the loss so they will not likely re-establish. Their horses and rigs were at their home on another street which was not reached by the fire. 1909
One interesting thing was the wells was said to have fine water but the wells were never tested. They may have been, but there is no reference to the fact– nor complaints about the water. In those days, people were used to getting some dirt in their mouths from time to time. They drank out of delivery barrels from the hardware store which were seldom cleaned, and out of their own barrels which were frequently uncovered and subject to dust and contamination. But somehow or other they survived.
The days of the civic wells are gone, never to return, now that we have filtered water. But in the typhoid epidemic of the nineteen hundreds, the people were glad to use the new bored wells.
By the middle of the 1870’s, it was expected that a fashionable home in Carleton Place would have running water and an indoor bathroom. This was generally accomplished by placing a large water tank in the attic which was usually lead lined — one reason the average life span was shorter back then.
One water pipe usually ran down to a boiler in the kitchen, where it could be heated —